Director Papa values student, pro interaction

In the current Theatre Company production “Bus Stop,” professor Andrew Papa doubles as director.

It’s an honor, he said.

“I have directed off and on for quite some time now, and getting the chance to work with our students, alongside professional actors, is a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said.

Papa is excited be part of the department, which has a rich history, having produced much talent, including comedian Keegan-Michael Key.  

“Just knowing that kind of history exists here has invigorated me to do my best work,” he said.

While acknowledging that it is a challenge to be part of such a legacy, he said he looks forward to the journey, no matter where it takes him.

“The biggest difference between performing in Detroit’s professional theatre scene versus performing with the Theatre Company has got to be the involvement of our students,” he said. “I can think of no program in the country that celebrates the work of student actors alongside the work of professional/working actors as well as Detroit Mercy’s.”

Students appreciate working with Papa, as well.

Bridget Smith, a junior, described him as a helpful, hands-on instructor.

“He is one of the most energetic people I’ve ever worked with and a favorite professor to so many people,” she said. “I have learned many different things about being a better student, a better professional and a better actor.”

Autumn Russell, also a junior, appreciates Papa’s animated nature.

“I’ve learned the different styles of acting and how they were and are developed (to) how to prepare myself for when I'm performing,” she said.

Russell appears in the latest production.

“ ‘Bus Stop’ is considered an American theatre classic,” Papa said. “It’s a real gem of a play that deals with the trials and tribulations of love in the Midwest in the 1950s. Some may see the show as just a romantic comedy, but it is so much more than that. Each character has a deeply empathetic, detailed life, which is fleshed out beautifully through the course of the story.”